25 April 2005
For as long as I can remember, there were always worries about my momma's youngest sister, Kerry. I remember sittin' outside the door to the back bedroom listenin' to Momma and Daddy talkin' 'bout Aunt Kerry in hushed tones, an' getting yelled at when they found me. Aunt Kerry was like some kinda plague they didn't want none of us kids to catch, but she was always my favorite aunt. Now I, bein' the oldest in the family, knew Aunt Kerry had some kinda problems, but the problem was, Momma an' Daddy wouldn't tell us nothin'. Everytime I'd go and try to ask, Momma'd clam up an' Daddy'd tell me to hush up and stop upsettin' my momma. Aunt Kerry didn't ever visit often, but when she did Daddy always had ta stop me from hangin' on her. Her three kids were always so quiet, never sayin' much or playin' with the rest of us. Sometimes all of them, even Aunt Kerry, would be all bruised up an' I always wondered why. Daddy tol' me once that my cousins had a mean daddy that hurt them an' Aunt Kerry. I cried myself to sleep that night.
I can still remember the day they took my cousins from my Aunt Kerry. Daddy an' Momma let my cousin Kristin come live with us, an' the boys went to live with my other aunt Alexandra an' my uncle Tom. Daddy said we didn't have enough money to support another kid, but it was better than sendin' 'em all off to some orphanage. Momma cried a lot during that time, but not so's that any of us kids would notice it. Durin' that time, we didn't see too much of Aunt Kerry. Until that one day… Aunt Kerry came to the house, was in 'bout July, I remember. Her face was all beat up an' Momma an' Daddy rushed her into the back bedroom 'bout as soon as she stepped in the door. Still, all beat up like she was, she managed to smile at me. I think I musta been 'bout ten then. That whole night, all I could hear was Momma an' Aunt Kerry cryin'. Then, 'round midnight, when they thought all us kids were asleep, Daddy an' Momma an' Aunt Kerry left an' the neighbor lady came over to stay with us. I didn't get a lick of sleep that night.
They didn't come home 'til 'bout three or four that mornin' an' when they did, Aunt Kerry was bandaged up good. Her arm was in a sling an' everything. I snuck outta my room to talk to Daddy. He scolded me for bein' outta bed, but he wasn't real mad. He said that Aunt Kerry's collarbone was broken, an' that they had hauled Kristin's daddy off to jail for hurtin' Aunt Kerry. He tol' me to get on to bed, 'cause I still had to go to school, but I still didn't sleep much. The next day at school, I went up to the counselor Ms. Harbin, an' talked to her. I tol' her everything 'bout Aunt Kerry an' my cousins an' their mean daddy. I cried a whole lot. Ms. Harbin tol' me not to worry an' everything would be all right. I guess I believed her pretty well then. When I got home from school that evenin', Aunt Kerry was gone. Momma's eyes were all red an' watery like she'd been cryin' all day, an' Daddy wouldn't let me talk to her none. I was real scared when Daddy said that Aunt Kerry had gone off with the mean daddy again. Real scared. I made Daddy hold me for a real long time that night, refusin' to let go of him. I was real glad to have my Daddy an' not some mean daddy like Kristin's.
For a long time, we didn't hear much or see much of Aunt Kerry. Momma sometimes would get a letter in the mail, but she wouldn't never show any of us who it was from. An' sometimes, real late at night, the phone would ring an' Momma'd answer it. I always sorta figured it musta been Aunt Kerry an' I'd ask Momma if she was all right. One day, Momma was real upset an' she said that Aunt Kerry hadn't called her the night before. She tol' Daddy that she thought he oughtta go over to Aunt Kerry's house an' see if she was all right. Daddy left an' didn't come back for a while. Momma tried to play games with me an' Kristin so's we wouldn't worry 'bout Aunt Kerry, but she was so worried she couldn't play right and finally Kristin an' I went off to watch the TV.
When Daddy came home, he was real upset. He an' Momma went into the back bedroom, an' this time… they let me come. I knew it hadda be somethin' real bad if they were lettin' me come back. Daddy set me down on a chair an' looked at me real serious. "Ella," he said, never lookin' away from my eyes, "I got some real bad news to tell ya, honey. You see.. your Aunt Kerry…well, baby… she's dead." Momma covered her mouth with her hands, an' looked down at the floor, but I just stared at Daddy. I screamed at him that he was wrong, he was WRONG, HE WAS WRONG!!! Aunt Kerry wasn't dead, she was the best, strongest person in the world. I started cryin' real hard, an' Daddy wrapped his arms around me tight like he'd never let go.
Later on, they caught the 'mean daddy' that hurt my cousins and killed my Aunt Kerry. They tried him in court and convicted him of murder in the first degree. He was a crack dealer an' I found out later that my Aunt Kerry was with him for that, at first. The best, strongest person in the world couldn't leave him because she was scared he'd hurt her or my cousins, but by bein' with him it was much worse. He was evil when high an' he was always high. The abuse my Momma an' Daddy tried to save her from so many times…Finally, it was too late. My Aunt Kerry was killed on September 10th, 1997, ten days before her twenty-eight birthday, twelve days before my eleventh birthday. I know I'll never forget my Aunt Kerry, my favorite aunt who taught me all kinds of neat little things when I was real little, an' taught me the most important biggest things when I was a little bit older. I grew up, always rememberin' Aunt Kerry an' last year, when my first little girl was born, I named her Kerry.